Magical Spain reach perfection to rule Europe

 

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The Independent Online

At the top of the stack, looking down on the rest of the world there can be no arguments any more about who is the greatest, or quibbles about style: this, unquestionably, is the age of Spain, the great champions of modern football.

To win one major tournament is an extraordinary achievement but to clamber back to the top of the pile a second and now third time, as Vicente del Bosque's team did last night, is the sign of a team that is so far ahead of the rest it has become embarrassing for the chasing pack. Last night Spain picked Italy off in the first half and then they crushed them in the second.

European champions four years ago, World Cup winners in 2010 and now the winners of Euro 2012, it is difficult to comprehend the scale of this unprecedented achievement. The last 30 minutes of this final turned one-sided when an injury to the substitute Thiago Motta meant that Italy, who had made all their three changes, were reduced to ten men. There is no assassin more lethal than Spain.

In the last six minutes Spain's substitutes from Stamford Bridge, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata, scored goals that made the scoreline uncomfortable for Italy. In truth, the Italians had fought back in compelling fashion after David Silva's early goal but Spain's second from Jordi Alba on 33 minutes killed the Italian game plan.

Cesc Fabregas hit the cross for Spain's first goal, a lovely chip back across goal that he retrieved from the byline under pressure from Giorgio Chiellini. Fabregas had started the move and got the ball back via Xavi and Andres Iniesta to pick out Silva in the box. The Manchester City man met the ball sharply with his head and beat Gianluigi Buffon, who had followed the ball out from his goalmouth.

The second goal came, even when Spain were not enjoying the dominance that preceded their first. It started with Alba winning the ball in his own half and continuing his run forward. In the moment that Alba crossed the defensive line, Xavi struck a wonderful pass through the Italian defence and full-back Alba slotted home like a seasoned striker.

The game was over and, in the second half, Italy's resistance finally ran out. Torres reprised his Euro 2008 goal, running on to Xavi's pass and then set up a fourth for Mata. The destruction was complete.

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